Thursday, May 09, 2013

Debunking the IQ myth (?)

This Hampshire guff (below) was debunked months ago -- and the underlying controversy goes back about 100 years.  We have always known that IQ can be split up in various ways so the only interesting issue is how well those components correlate.  From the report below you could be forgiven for thinking that they do not correlate at all.  But they do.  The correlations were somewhat lower in the Hampshire study because of his use of a restricted (high IQ) sample, but that effect is elementary statistics and does not provide an estimate for the population as a whole.  There is NOTHING new in this study from a psychometrics viewpoint:  Just another tired old attempt to deny the facts that don't align with  the "all men are equal" myth

You may be more than a single number, according to a team of Western-led researchers. Considered a standard gauge of intelligence, an intelligence quotient (IQ) score doesn't actually provide an accurate measure of one's intellect, according to a landmark study – the largest of its kind – led by Adrian Owen of the Brain and Mind Institute at Western.

The study included more than 100,000 participants from around the globe, asking them to complete 12 cognitive tests looking at their memory, reasoning, attention and planning abilities. It found a simple IQ score is misleading when assessing one's intellectual capacity. These findings were published in an article:

"Fractioning Human Intelligence," in the journal Neuron, last month. "While there are different types of intelligence, they are all influenced by one, overarching, general intelligence. And that's what we essentially measured using something like an IQ test," said Adam Hampshire of the Brain and Mind Institute, who co-authored the paper.

Hampshire noted this kind of testing is insufficient in measuring one's intellect as it doesn't take into account multiple factors and abilities – different kinds of intelligence. "In the past, when people tried to examine how intelligence is related to the brain, they generally approached it with an assumption that there is one dominant form of intelligence which is sub-served by a specific system in the brain. What we found is that the brain regions associated with whatever the 'G Factor' is – what general intelligence is – actually housed more specialized systems, not just one," he explained.

"What we did in our study, that's been different than what's been done before, is to try and understand what the structure of intelligence is by considering the way in which the brain is organized into specialized functional systems – that is, when you look at the brain and you see there are different areas that form networks and support different types of functions," he explained.

As part of the study, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques with one group of participants to show that differences in cognitive abilities correspond to individual circuits in the brain.

"There are these multiple forms of intelligence and each form is in a different brain system," Hampshire said. Results from the study found that given a broader range of cognitive tasks, the differences in ability relate to at least three components of intelligence – short-term memory, reasoning and verbal aptitude.

These three components combined create an intelligence, or "cognitive profile." In other words, there is no single measure of intelligence.

Given the range of participants in the study, results also gave researchers new insight into how factors such as age, gender and the tendency to play computer games can influence brain function. While age had a profound negative effect on memory and reasoning abilities, playing computer games helped certain individuals perform better on tests assessing reasoning and short-term memory.

"My hope is that this (study) pens the debate back up on how we should conceive of and measure human intelligence. We very often hear these comparisons (of intelligence) and it's a terrible oversimplification. People should be skeptical when they hear these reports of population differences in IQ; it shouldn't be a unitary measure. Examining the social demographic correlations in more detail will help to understand them better. The patterns need to be examined with a more detailed model," Hampshire noted.

"We've identified different forms of intelligence now which relate to different systems in the brain. And we've also researched some into correlations with types of intelligence and different social demographics variables. What's next is refining that model of intelligence."



A apt analogy

I would have said:  "If America WERE a tree...".  But I guess that awareness of the subjunctive mood is fast fading.


Neither Medicaid nor Head Start Work

I have some comments on the Medicare study mentioned below on  FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC -- JR

Big government social engineers must be shaking their heads in disbelief.  The honest amongst them have to be asking how they could have been so wrong.

The effectiveness of both Medicaid and Head Start, two bulwarks of the left’s belief that massive government spending could make a difference in the lives of the poor have been exposed as ineffective.

A much anticipated study out of the state of Oregon on the health impacts of having Medicaid versus not having it has released second year data, and the results are devastating to those who believe in the power of government medicine.

The study compared health care outcomes for more than 6,000 people who were just entering the Medicare system after having no health insurance to those outcomes for just under 6,000 people who continued to not have health insurance.

Finally, Medicaid advocates would be able to prove what they instinctively knew to be true – Medicaid saves lives, and helps the health of those who receive it.

The Oregon study now throws not just a pail, but a full bucket of cold water on their expectations that Medicaid makes a difference reporting in the New England Journal of Medicine,

    “We found no significant effect of Medicaid coverage on the prevalence or diagnosis of hypertension or high cholesterol levels or on the use of medication for these conditions. Medicaid coverage significantly increased the probability of a diagnosis of diabetes and the use of diabetes medication, but we observed no significant ef- fect on average glycated hemoglobin levels or on the percentage of participants with levels of 6.5% or higher. Medicaid coverage decreased the probability of a positive screening for depression (−9.15 percentage points; 95% confidence interval, −16.70 to −1.60; P=0.02), increased the use of many preventive services, and nearly eliminated catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenditures.”

In laymen’s terms, Medicaid had no significant effect on actual measurable medical conditions, but it did “nearly eliminate catastrophic out-of-pocket medical expenditures.”

In this year alone, the Obama Administration plans to spend $267 billion on Medicaid alone rising to $529 billion by 2023.

Think about that, this year alone more than a quarter of a trillion dollars is being spent on a program that doesn’t significantly improve measurable health outcomes for its recipients, but facts be damned, when it comes to other people’s money, it is more about feeling good about our actions rather than whether they achieve the desired impact.

The news on Head Start is no better for those who believe that government can solve all ills.

A program started in 1965, Head Start has been incrementally expanded over the years and now it has become a year-round preschool and day care service for children between the ages of 3 to 5.

The problem with Head Start is that in spite of all its noble intentions of giving underprivileged children a better chance to succeed in school, it doesn’t work.

Currently costing taxpayers $8 billion a year, in 1998 Congress that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services conduct a study of the efficacy of Head Start program.  The little reported study by the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation within HHS’ Administration of Children and Families entitled ‘Third Grade Follow-Up to the Head Start Impact Study Final Report’ was released in October 2012.

It is no wonder it has largely been ignored with that enervating title.  But the reports results should not be ignored.  In fact the study revealed that Head Start:

    “…had few impacts on children in kindergarten through 3rd grade” versus those who had not been enrolled. Why? “[E]arly effects rapidly dissipated in elementary school, with only a single impact remaining at the end of 3rd grade for children in each age cohort.”

That’s right, the early effects of Head Start went away as the children matriculated through elementary school, with virtually all impact gone by the third grade.

Just another $8 billion a year spent on a social science experiment that has proven to be a complete bust, except in developing a large constituency of government workers dependent upon the programs.

At a time when our nation faces a real budget crisis, these two studies cry out for Members of Congress to conduct real evaluations of which of these feel good social programs are accomplishing their missions and which are just being sustained due to a loud group of advocates who have become dependent upon the government dollars regardless of whether they are accomplishing anything.

The Medicaid question becomes all the more important as states continue to grapple with whether to significantly increase the numbers of people who are eligible for the program.

Given the objective results available, those states which chose not to participate in the program have been proven right – saving taxpayers millions of dollars by just saying no to the program.

Now Congress has the responsibility to re-evaluate every assumption about the federal government’s involvement in both health care and education.  A fresh start about what the appropriate role of the federal government is in both areas underpinned by a knowledge that trillions of dollars have been wasted pursuing a failed liberal ideal.

As a first step, they should rip the failed programs out by the roots and take a giant step toward saving our nation from certain financial ruin.

Who knows, maybe Head Start and Medicaid will become the symbols of do-gooder government gone awry, and be held up for generations as the counterpoint to the next feel good government expansion schemes?

One can only hope so.



Huge puzzle: Gun crime has plunged, but nobody knows why

The answer to the puzzle is right before their blind Leftist eyes.  They even mention "surging incarceration rates" but cannot see that if more of the bad guys are in jail, crime rates MUST drop.  But Leftists heart bad guys so we can't blame much on them.  It's "poverty", don't you know?

Gun crime has plunged in the United States since its peak in the middle of the 1990s, including gun killings, assaults, robberies and other crimes, two new studies of government data show.

Yet few Americans are aware of the dramatic drop, and more than half believe gun crime has risen, according to a newly released survey by the Pew Research Center.

In less than two decades, the gun murder rate has been nearly cut in half. Other gun crimes fell even more sharply, paralleling a broader drop in violent crimes committed with or without guns. Violent crime dropped steeply during the 1990s and has fallen less dramatically since the turn of the millennium.

The number of gun killings dropped 39% between 1993 and 2011, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported in a separate report released Tuesday. Gun crimes that weren’t fatal fell by 69%. However, guns still remain the most common murder weapon in the United States, the report noted. Between 1993 and 2011, more than two out of three murders in the U.S. were carried out with guns, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found.

The bureau also looked into non-fatal violent crimes. Few victims of such crimes -- less than 1% -- reported using a firearm to defend themselves.

Despite the remarkable drop in gun crime, only 12% of Americans surveyed said gun crime had declined compared with two decades ago, according to Pew, which surveyed  more than 900 adults this spring. Twenty-six percent said it had stayed the same, and 56% thought it had increased.

It’s unclear whether media coverage is driving the misconception that such violence is up. The mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo., were among the news stories most closely watched by Americans last year, Pew found. Crime has also been a growing focus for national newscasts and morning network shows in the past five years but has become less common on local television news.

“It’s hard to know what’s going on there,” said D’Vera Cohn, senior writer at the Pew Research Center. Women, people of color and the elderly were more likely to believe that gun crime was up than men, younger adults or white people. The center plans to examine crime issues more closely later this year.

Though violence has dropped, the United States still has a higher murder rate than most other developed countries, though not the highest in the world, the Pew study noted. A Swiss research group, the Small Arms Survey, says that the U.S. has more guns per capita than any other country.

Experts debate why overall crime has fallen, attributing the drop to all manner of causes, such as the withering of the crack cocaine market and surging incarceration rates.

The victims of gun killings are overwhelmingly male and disproportionately black.



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